August 16, 2020
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On this special episode of Women & Money, Suze introduces you to a very special person, her spouse, KT! Suze and KT share how they live together and make their financial decisions.
Suze Orman’s Women and Money podcast is proudly sponsored by credit unions; a safe home for your money, rain or shine. Suze O. here. Now, listen to me, everybody. While I am healing, Sarah and Robert are going to present the following “Best Of” episode of the Women and Money podcast, as well as the men smart enough to listen, and briefly explain why they chose it for you to hear. So, everybody, enjoy the “Best Of” podcast. See you soon. Hi, everyone. This is Sarah, and this is Robert. And today is Sunday, August 16, 2020. OK, well, today I feel like it’s divine intervention. I was on the phone with Suze just a few days ago. You’re not going to believe this, but for two hours we were on FaceTime, I don’t know how she had the energy for that. And we were talking about happiness, the fifth quality of a wealthy woman, and the one we’re covering in The Eight Qualities of a Wealthy Woman course this coming week in the Community. Robert, really quickly, where can everyone listening go to get the free community? Well, you head over to the Apple App Store or Google Play, you search for Suze Orman, and you can download the free Community app. Right, exactly. So we talked a lot when I was on the phone with Suze about happiness and dwelling in our hearts. It was really one of the most beautiful conversations I’ve ever had with S.O. and as you know, once I got off with her, I immediately called you and said, I know exactly what episode we have to pick for Sunday, which is today. It has to be one that KT is in because there is nothing on this planet that makes Suze happier than when she’s with KT. That’s right, you’ve said before, #couplegoals. Haha, that’s totally right, Robert, couples goals. So today, what episode have we cued up? Oh, we have a really special one that resonates with happiness. So, today we go back to July 7, 2019, for an episode called Suze and KT’s Formula for Financial Harmony. Wait a minute, you guys, it’s KT here! What are you talking about me for? I’m listening to you. KT? I’m listening to you. I just heard KT’s in the house and I’m here. KT Zoom bombed our session! We’re so glad you’re on with us. I know, I was going to surprise you both, but are you really going to play that episode again? Of course. Oh, my God, it was the best episode. Do you know how many emails we got saying that all they wanted was KT back on the show, begging, begging for you? So, we’re so glad that you’re here today, KT, because I have a ton of questions or a few questions, really. Um, were you nervous? I know you work with Suze all the time, but were you nervous, like in that room that you have set up, across from her in this setting? A wreck, I was a train wreck. I was really, really scared to death. First of all, we’ve been working together for 20 years, but I think what people don’t realize is Suze is in front of the camera, I’m behind it. And to put me in front of a microphone, a camera, um, on set with her to come on stage? Absolutely, I’m like a deer in headlights. Frightened, frightened, frightened. I don’t like it, it’s not my, it’s not my thing. So yeah, I was really scared. And she said, all right, KT, make-believe we’re just talking to each other, don’t look at the mics, don’t look at the equipment, don’t watch the gauges and all the buttons. Don’t do that, just talk to me. I said, all right, and that’s what we did. You know, one of my favorite parts about that episode is she would, like, stop the episode, which you heard, and she would start producing you. She would turn into Robert. Suze does it, I can’t even produce Suze, she does it all on her own. It’s just, it’s how it comes out at the end there. So, um, one of my favorite parts of this episode that everybody here is going to hear again is, I love that it is the story of how you first met. What was it like for you, KT, to recall that, because you both had some differing perspectives on it? I think that, um when you say how we first met, we met very casually at my house in San Francisco for dinner. But I was introduced to Suze from many from good friends in Asia that we both had, and I didn’t expect anything except to meet someone that was going to help me handle my finances and money since I was new back in the United States. I had lived in Asia for most of my adult life, for 20 years. So, when I met her at dinner, the only first impression was, she’s a lot smaller in person than I thought because in the photos and on book covers, she looks huge. She looks like this big Amazon woman, and she’s really short. Well, she won’t like me saying that, but she’s a lot shorter than I thought. I didn’t know, remember, I didn’t know who she was, I never heard of Suze Orman. You know, I was in Asia, and my sister, my twin sister, went gaga that I was even going to be in the same room with Suze Orman. So, it was kind of a fun encounter. But what a great night that was, I still think about that, we had so much fun. It was a good group of people. Um, speaking of Suze, how is she? Can you give us a little tiny update on how she’s feeling? So we’re three weeks since surgery, and she’s doing great. At least the past two days have been fabulous. But it’s been a very slow recovery. I think some of you know how serious this surgery was and for the spinal cord to be in shock, and the nerve canal, and the arteries to your brain, and all of these things that they had to navigate around during the surgery for 12 hours, kind of is a very slow recovery. So, everything’s waking up, everything is working as it should. As soon as Suze stopped taking any kind of medication and she wouldn’t take opioids or any painkillers, she only took a very mild medication to help with the swelling. As soon as she stopped all of that, the clarity in her mind just snapped right back, and that was about a week ago. So she’s been very excited about getting back in the podcast, back to work, back to the island, back to fishing, and back to her, you know, normal life and a better life. Because now this is such a relief that, you know, they were able to do this miraculous surgery, and it was perfect, absolutely perfect. So, we’re thrilled. She’s been great, really happy. Well, how have you been holding up through this as well? Tired. Because I told everyone, because we’re in COVID, I’m the cook, the house cleaner, the nurse, you know, everything right now. And it’s a little bit difficult because we don’t have and we can’t have Suze around any people and, and anyone that goes through a surgery knows that you know your immune system is weak, so the doctor specifically wanted to be sure that she was not with any physical trainers or around people in general. And we honored that. So, I’ve been her trainer. We argue all the time about how many leg lifts she should be doing, but it’s been good, it’s been fine. We’re just now starting to sleep through the night. I feel like the baby is finally sleeping through the night. See, now you know, everything I went through. Yes, you can relate to that. I said wow, I got six hours of sleep! I just think that is absolutely great. Now, I’m going to just to sort of go back to this episode here a little bit. I do want to share something with you, KT, that I have not shared with you or Suze. Sarah knows I think, what I’m about to say. Sarah, remember when we stay started a few weeks ago putting these “Best Ofs” together, I asked you the question, have you ever tried to edit a podcast with tears streaming down your face? Yeah, you did and, I mean, Robert, just so everybody is clear, Robert is sensitive. Proud of it. Awe, we love him. We love him. Well, thank you very much. We love him. He’s our cry baby. We love him. This was the very first episode where tears were streaming down my face, where I had to wipe away constantly while I was editing. And they were tears of joy, and just the emotion, again, this story of how you and Suze got together, is so inspiring because I am about the age that Suze was when you all met. And I have not found my person yet. So, in addition to all of these other things, the fact that you give me hope that person is out there, and I think I would speak for anyone else who’s in a similar position, and we’ve seen some of the feedback when this episode dropped. Um, you can hear the love and the respect that you have for each other came pouring out of the speakers in this episode and every other appearance that you made on the podcast so far, KT. Oh, thank you, Robert. And it’s true. We love to tell our story to people that have been through divorce or have struggled through finding relationships. And we never expected to find what we actually have when we were both 50 years old. Ever. We never expected that. So it’s pretty extraordinary, you know, that we found each other. But we always say, don’t ever give up, people. There’s someone there. There are lots of hearts out there and there’s one with your name on it. So don’t give up. OK, everyone, let’s listen up and see what we all talked about, about a year ago. All right. The time has come. You have asked and we are answering. On today’s podcast, I have a special guest, KT. She said we, it’s me, it’s KT, finally everybody, I’m here. Before we started this, I said now KT, don’t be practicing, no we’re not practicing. You’re on. OK, this is it. Jesus, why did I agree to this? So, here’s the thing. You have asked as I said, and we’re going to answer. And the thing that you want to know the most from the two of us is, how do we do our relationship, financially speaking? Now, for those of you who are new to the Women and Money podcast, along with the men who are smart enough to listen, let me just tell you a little bit about KT. KT is my spouse. We have been together now for 19 years. What do you think? Almost 20. She has such a smile on her face, she exaggerates everybody. So just know that right now, she exaggerates. All right. So, we have been together really since 2001. So, it’s 18 years but we say 19 because we started our 19th year. OK. And I had been in many relationships prior to this, as you know, and it wasn’t until I was 50 years of age when I met KT that really, for the first time ever, I felt I was with somebody who was not just my equal, but somebody who really held my heart dearly. Who treasured my life, and my feelings, and my desires as much as hers, really if not more. And it was the first time in my life that I had a relationship where I felt respected, and I felt loved, and I felt cared for, and more importantly, I felt like I had a family. Oh, you like that KT? That’s very sweet, very sweet. And the thing that you don’t know about KT, is that I met KT at her house, where she was having a dinner, where friends of hers who were also friends of mine, thought that I should meet KT. She had just returned from Hong Kong, and they thought she might need some financial help. When we met that night, what did you say to me, Miss Travis? So, we’re having dinner and I didn’t know who this Suze Orman was. And here I am, a newbie in America and San Francisco, but I was a big shot in Asia, in the branding world and advertising. Tell them what you did. No, no, no, it doesn’t matter. But I had a big, I had a big life, I was very, arrogant. It matters to me. She was one of the presidents of Ogilvy Mather. OK, and Suze looked at me and said, oh, so you build brands? What could you do for me? And I asked her how old she was, she said she was about to turn 50. And I looked at her and I was very honest, I said, you have about a five-year window. At that moment, I didn’t know who she was, talk about wanting to give me a slap down. But she didn’t, and couldn’t because I’m the host, it’s my house, it’s my party and she’s a guest. And that’s what, where it led to tremendous curiosity and intrigue between both of us. That’s where it all started. So, then KT and I started to work together and also started to obviously be romantically involved. No, no, no we just fell in love at the get-go. I did not fall in love with you that night. Wait, you did not fall in love with me that night. The get-go is that night. Well no, shortly thereafter. Like 6 weeks. And we did this long distance, I have to tell you all, we started communicating and writing back and forth and back then, I mean, we didn’t have half of the technology we have now. We had these little, like AOL mail things, and in any event… I wrote her the most romantic emails, oh my God, I was brilliant. We started to work together, we started to live together, and really since then, we have spent seven days a week 24 hours a day together. I have to tell you what she did. The first thing Suze did about money with me, I go meet her in San Diego, we fly back to San Francisco, and on the plane, she asks to look at my wallet. And I had this really beautiful leather passport and card portfolio because I lived in Asia. We always carried passports, not just a driver’s license. I open it up, I must have had about 50 cards from every club, every airline, every club, every store. You name it, I had it. Suze immediately started taking them out and folding them in half, like to break them. And I had only known her a few weeks, and we’re flying and the first time together, and I’m like, what are you doing? Tell them why you did that. Because you shouldn’t have had them. Your wallet was a disgrace. She told me I needed three cards. Three. No, no, no. It was beautifully organized, but too much stuff, right? We still have too much stuff. It wasn’t messy on any level, it was beautiful. Keep telling them why you did that. I’m sitting here, just in shock, because it was not beautiful. But again, that’s not what this is about. So, we started to work together and that really wasn’t easy for KT, because here she’s the new kid on the block. Even though, and she wasn’t letting me say this to you, KT was one of the five presidents of Ogilvy Mather in Asia, in Hong Kong. How many different countries? I worked 18 countries. I had a fabulous company and staff, a stellar reputation, a portfolio of the most coveted clients anyone in the world would want to work for, all famous, all very, very top in their game. And, was probably one of the best artistic directors, which means directing TV, directing commercials, brand building, brand building, in the world. All right. So, let’s just say she doesn’t let me exaggerate about her. So, what happened was we start working together, and I was kind of seen by Suze’s colleagues as either a money grabber and meanwhile, you didn’t tell them I was already a baby millionaire when she met me. I was perfectly fine and very, very stable and owned like a $4 million home in San Francisco. So, I was OK. I met Suze, and we were intrigued with each other, because of love and our common… We told funny stories to each other all the time, and we laughed, and we still laugh a lot all the time. We had so much fun, we still have so much fun. So, I had to start from ground zero with Suze, and all of her colleagues who didn’t know who I was. So, I figured, OK, fair enough. You know I’ll earn my stripes and it was very difficult, and I had to really swallow my pride, which wasn’t easy for someone like me. And I did and earned my stripes in a big way. First with the publishers, then with business partners, then opening new doors and landscapes of business that Suze had never entered on her own. And we really flourished, very quickly, our first five years together were spectacular. But here’s what’s important now, which is what you want to know. We’re living together, we’re loving together, and now how do we share money? Again. KT told you that she was financially independent when she met me. Obviously, I was financially independent when I met KT. But now we’re earning money, and how do we split that money? KT, do you want to tell them or tell me to tell them? Well, let me tell you a Suze mistake. This is a mistake that Suze Orman, the great world’s personal finance genius, made. She was so enamored by me in the beginning of this relationship she wanted to 50/50 split income and I insisted, no way. And she said, what are crazy, why wouldn’t you do that? And I said because Suze, it’s not right. I’m acting as a brand builder, your agency, your advocate, your publicist. I’m performing a duty that, in the real world and market, would be worth X% of the total income that the brand earned. Now when I explained that to her, she still wanted to give me 50% of everything. And I declined because I said if you do that, you’ll ruin my reputation. You’ll actually ruin the ethics by which I work. What was important, seriously, about that, is we had decided that KT should never have to be dependent on me to get the money that she was helping me create. So, every contract that we did, KT was written into the contract. And that is still true to this day, that when I get paid, I get paid my percentage. And KT gets directly from, from whoever has hired us, whether it was a book or whatever it may be. That check goes directly to KT. And what that does, it guarantees that KT gets the residual royalties for the rest of her life. Even if I all of a sudden go crazy and I say, I don’t want to be with you anymore, KT. KT doesn’t have to worry about her future income. Not that she has to worry about her future income anyway, but… It was Suze’s, actually, brainchild to do this. And I have to say, for all of you in professional relationships, make sure you really take this to heart. Because, what it did, it was a divorce insurance aid policy, pretty much. And we weren’t even married then because we couldn’t be in the United States in the beginning. So, for those of you who have co-working or shared companies, for everybody… Yes, but true for husband and wife, wife and wife, husband and husband. Nobody should have to ask their spouse or somebody they are sharing money with, for money. It should be set up from the beginning that way, or right now. And to this day, KT and I do not have one joint account. Do we own things jointly? Yes, we own the condo that we live in jointly, we own things like that jointly, but we have no account, no money account. Do we own the boat together? No, that’s Suze’s boat. She doesn’t even let me drive it! Yeah but ask her who owns the island? KT, thank you, I think she got the better deal there. But that’s because that was a gift to KT, from me. You know, if anything ever happened to us, I wanted to know that KT had that, and that was her baby. So, we divided things that way while we were in love. Because the time to prepare for the what-ifs of life is not when you are in a state of hate. I want to give them some really valid tips on how we live together. And one of the things that we do which is great is that we discuss, we never make a big-ticket purchase item or any kind of item without consulting each other or agreeing that we both want something. It’s really a very, very clear cut and very respective way to live together and to deal with money. We don’t keep any secrets from each other, we’re totally transparent. I never buy something and say, oh, Suze’s going to be mad at me, I better hide this. And she doesn’t do that with me either. But we work together very closely on the needs, the wants, and the must-haves in terms of our spending. We also are at a point in our age, and we are both very, very blessed. We are not in a position where we really want anything anymore. I mean both of us. We just want more time, and we want to be healthy, things that money can never buy is the needs and wants for us at this age. So, I just want to give you an example of how we make joint decisions together. So, I want you to listen to this closely. We were looking for the San Francisco house, a statue of a buddha. This particular statue that we were looking for forever, that we wanted at the bottom of a staircase. And we were looking, and we were looking, and we were looking. And we drove up to this one art store in San Francisco, this is when we lived in San Francisco. And KT has to go park the car. I get out, I go in, and it’s there. This statue is perfect. It is absolutely everything we have ever envisioned. And I say to the guy, we’ll take it. I’ll buy it. KT walks in. Go on KT. And Suze said, KT, look what I bought us. And I looked at her without even looking at what it was, and I was hurt. I was physically like, wait a minute, what do you mean what you bought? We agreed we do these things together. And I trust Suze’s taste, I trust Suze, she makes great decisions. But she kind of broke our little rule; she broke our little golden rule that we discuss these things together. So, what did we do? There was no way we could buy that statue anymore because that statue, even though it was stunning, would remind us of the hurt that had happened when we were about to go buy it. Right? So, I’m just giving you a little idea about how important it is to really, really communicate with your spouse, or the person that you are living with. And it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how little money you have. Every decision needs to be made together. We both look at our statements. When it comes to investing, KT is in control of her own money. She talks to the people, she looks at it, she goes over her own statements and she has to make her own decisions because, truthfully, she drives me crazy. She’s like, if we, if all of a sudden, I bought a stock and it’s up 50% in a day, KT says sell, sell, sell, sell. And if, if I buy another stock and it’s down 50% in a day KT says sell, sell, sell. And it drives me nuts. So, we have also decided that we’re not going to consult each other on what I’m buying in my portfolios and what she buys in her portfolios, because she also has to learn, and she’s learned. That if, God forbid, anything happens to me, it’s KT that inherits absolutely 100% of everything, and she has to be empowered. And the time to learn about, it is not when I’m not here, it was now. Right? And to that point, you have to know where everything is and what you have at all times. And for relationships that don’t share that responsibility, I’m KT, urging you to do it. Know where it is. Listen, Suze’s a genius when it comes to money. I’m still clueless, I still get mixed up between all the different Roth IRAs out there, trust me. But I do know… The other day she was asking me, what is this five-year rule? What, I just don’t get it, why? What, what, what? Anyway. I’m always confused on that topic, but in any event, I do know all of our investments, mine as well as Suze’s, I know everything that we have in terms of bank accounts, everything. I mean we, we also keep in our protection portfolio at hand, all of our essential documents. Another thing that’s really important, I mean we live in hurricane land. So, and when we were in San Francisco, we were in earthquake land. So, wherever we are, we know we can grab and go with our essentials. Suze keeps hold of passports and I pretty much have all of our contracts, business deeds, everything else. And we both know where these things are. It is so important to do that. So, you’re getting a little glimpse. We won’t go on and on forever, but you’re getting a glimpse that what makes my relationship with KT, KT’s relationship with me, really so successful is that we both have equal responsibility for every single part of our relationship. Whether it is financial, whatever level it’s on, it’s a shared responsibility. And so, would you say… What are you smiling about, Travis? Well, the one time that I make, well I’ve made Suze crazy a couple of times because we work in Las Vegas often and visit, but we usually are in that Sin City, which I love, for work. And Suze and I have stayed at every major hotel, have walked through every casino, and I personally love roulette. I don’t count fast enough to play the card games or poker, all of that. But I love roulette. And Suze won’t even walk on the floor of a casino, let alone gamble. That’s like, just not in her DNA. But I did for my birthday! I did, all my friends met us to go see Lady Gaga. And they all wanted to gamble, and I swallowed it and I stood there and watched. She watched us all lose money. No, remember what I did? As soon as they were all ahead, I took their chips. I took their chips. Oh, you took chips from Jill, Jill was playing 21. And every time they won, Suze leaned over on the table and took the chips off. And she was holding this big stack of chips, and you gave it back to them. Yeah, but they all left having made money. But anyway, tell them the story about… So, I had $20 and I put it, Dax was our nephew’s birthday, I wanted to play his lucky number. And I lost, as soon as they spun. Twenty dollars, I wanted to throw up! Suze looked to me and we’re walking away and she said, do you want to still play? And I’m just looking at her, I said to myself, don’t go there KT. I said no, that was all, that was enough. But I would have stayed for hours playing that game, I love that game. That is the only part that really, we seriously disagree on. Because I just can’t, I can’t deal with it. It pains her, she wants to cry when she sees that money being lost. So, you ask, what is the key to our successful relationship? I think you’ve gotten a little bit of a glimpse of it. We love each other, but more importantly, we really like each other. We respect each other, we take care of each other. You know, I’m just going to say this one thing. We live on this island, and this island really is more for KT than for myself. This was her dream and she has her dream. But I freak out about it because it’s right in the middle of the Bahamas and a hurricane can come. So, I’m always saying, can we just sell the island? Let’s just sell the island and live in a little condo and not have any expenses, because we were always so happy that we thought we’d be able to live in our San Francisco house and be able to live on Social Security. For some reason, that made me so happy thinking that we were going to be able to do that, regardless of all the money that we have. And KT proved her love just a little bit ago, because I know she loves this island more than life itself. The last thing I want to do, people, is sell paradise. But, Suze was very concerned and had a little bit of anxiety a couple of months ago about the hurricane season. This always happens. But I looked at her I said, Suze, there’s nothing more important to me, nothing, except for you. So, if you want to sell the island, you know what, we’re going to just do it. We’re going to sell it and walk away and say hey, we had it great while the going was good. So, I called a few real estate agents and Suze, Suze didn’t know I did this. Until I guess, did they call you? No, I was on your emails and I saw your emails. I go on her email all the time. But I think she was touched, and I wrote very seriously to them, that we should be looking at market value, there may not be time. But the point being, you have to have full transparency, but you also have to have full autonomy. You can never answer to one another as if, do you have money or do you not have money? You really have to have your own money. So that was just a little glimpse into our life. Anything else you want to say to them, Travis? Wait, what do you think about when I call you Travis? You’re mad at me when you say, Travis. No, I’m saying to you affectionately right now. OK. I just think that if you could all be as happy as Suze and I are in our lives, and our work, and our values, our morals, our common goals. And I got news for you, we would be this happy if we were absolutely penniless. Yeah, we’d probably have even more fun, right? We’d have more fun because we’d have so far-less decisions to make. All right, but, so that’s a little glimpse into our lives, the lives of Suze and KT. And I hope you enjoyed meeting the love of my life. Mine too. Bye, everybody. Thank you so much for being here with us today, KT, I’m so happy to hear your voice. We love you so, so, so, so, so, so, so much. Everybody in the Community leaves you lots and lots of messages thanking you for taking care of our Suze. And we love Suze. So, if you’ve got messages for KT and Suze, please leave them for us in the Community. I’m speaking to Suze all the time, reading her those messages, and she just loves hearing them from all of you. Oh, Sarah, thank you. And Robert, after listening to that again, I’m a little teary right now, I have to tell you. I’m going to put some Kleenex in the mail to both of you. Well, thank you very much for listening, everybody, and we will be back here on Thursday. See you then. Bye-bye, everyone. Hi, I'm Sarah, and I'm Robert, and we're from Suze Orman's Women and Money podcast team here to tell you that Alloya's member credit unions are so proud to have brought you this episode. You know, Robert, credit unions live by people helping people philosophy. Absolutely, Sarah. And that means when you bank with a credit union, you can trust that they have your best interest at heart. 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